TOP SHOWS DON’T END WITH THE WEST END
Ask someone to suggest a location for a theatre break and they will undoubtedly respond “London” without skipping a beat. The West End is an obvious choice due to its rich estate of theatres and famous shows, while if pushed some will probably proffer New York’s Broadway as a longer haul suggestion. But world class theatre is not confined to the Big Smoke or the Big Apple – if you’re looking for a cultural break with a twist, top up your travel money card and check out one of these cities.
With music by Tim Rice and Elton John, The Lion King has been a global success story – immortalised not only in a Disney animated feature, but on countless stages across the planet. Simba et al have of course spent many, many nights on Broadway and in the West End, but in Hamburg The Lion King is very much the King of the German city’s theatre scene.
When the Theater im Hafen opened on the banks of the River Elbe in 1994, musical Buddy was the launch production and the story of Buddy Holly continued to be told to Hamburg audiences for a respectable six and a half years until April 2001. Later that year however a new chapter opened, and that continues to delight residents and visitors some 14 years on.
The Lion King is quite simply big in Hamburg. The German-spoken production attracts people from all over Europe and beyond and the show’s distinctive branding has become a significant part of Hamburg life. Large lettering on the theatre – DER KÖNIG DER LÖWEN – is visible from the other side of the harbour, while distinctive yellow boats shuttle ticketholders across the water to the show making for a memorable entrance.
Toronto has been compared to a more compact version of New York – biggest city in its country, high rise waterfront skyline and a melting pot of cultures. It is therefore no surprise that like its American cousin, the Canadian metropolis has its own thriving theatre district. In fact, Toronto’s theatre district is regarded as the third biggest in the English speaking world after London and New York.
Like its more famous peers, Toronto hosts some long running productions and limited runs featuring some of the biggest names in the business. From an open run of Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities at Grand Chapiteau at the The Port Lands to a four month spell of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit starring Tony award winner Angela Lansbury, there is constantly something to suit every taste in Toronto.
If you are planning a theatre break to Hamburg, Toronto – or indeed to one of many more stage loving cities – pre-booking your tickets is strongly recommended as demand for shows is high, hence the long runs. Fortunately most shows and venues allow you to book tickets and make international payments online so you can sort out the best seats in the house at the click of a button.